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I've found it difficult to get estimates on return on investment (ROI) timeframes from e-learning providers. I know it depends on the scale of the training programme, but are there any guidelines?
E-learning is not a quick fix and you have to invest to see results. E-learning success takes a considerable amount of time and investment, and a narrow focus on cost reduction may fail to recognise the greater importance of optimising your organisation's intellectual assets.
- Plan from the start The key to gaining ROI is having a plan and keeping it simple. Your project needs to be on track from the start to deliver a defined ROI, whether that is in financial or performance terms. You need an ROI to ensure the credibility of your e-learning programme, secure corporate buy-in and attract future funding.
- Link the project to business strategy Ensure your executives' attention is firmly fixed on achieving set business goals to deliver against the business strategy. Your e-learning project should do likewise. For example, salesforce readiness for a product launch, improved supply chain management, and improved customer loyalty through improved customer service/education.
- Don't be a lone ranger Create excitement and support from as many quarters as you can early on. Show all departments how this project benefits them.
- Agree your budget Don't go too far before securing firm funding or a defined staggered path to money. You should be asking your provider questions relating to the levels of improved staff performance and time-savings such as reduced staff time out of the office. Empowering staff via e-learning will also make the business agile.
- Quiz your provider Ask them what other companies have done or are doing, and how it worked for them. Ask them how it plans its projects to deliver maximum ROI.
Following these tips will ensure your money is well spent and you gain the ROI you are searching for.
Response from James Tincknell, corporate solutions director at Click2learn, www.click2learn.com